Stepgrandparents And The Family Dynamic

 Write a paper discussing how, as a counselor, you would encourage and incorporate the role of the stepgrandparent into the stepfamily dynamic.  Support your stance with references from the chapter.  Provide the reflection in 2-3 pages in APA formatting.

 

Please read the following for this week as well as All Week 8 Online Course Materials:

Readings:

Week 8: Overview

Extended Stepfamily Constellations: Relationships with Step-Grandparents

Welcome to week 8, where time has flown by and we have learned enormous amounts of information on how stepfamilies develop and come into “being”.  In chapter 9, the term stepgrandparent refers to the biological parents of the stepparent, whose inclusion in the lives of the stepfamily occurs as a result of its formation, and who have little or no contact with the stepchildren prior to that family formation.  Overall lifespans are increasing with people paying better attention to their diets and exercising more well into their senior years.  The stepgrandparent role will continue to develop and in similar fashion to the biological family, stepgrandparents will be integral in making connections as well.  In week 8, you will be asked to read chapter 9, the article by Adcox on “Advice for Stepgrandparents” (In the Week 8 Activities page), and complete two discussion board posts and one reflection assignment.

Objectives

By the end of this week, students will:

· Define and apply social identity theory as it relates to stepgrandparents

· Define and apply social ecology theory as it relates to stepgrandparents

· Discuss the dominant social myths abotu stepgrandparents

 

Week 8: Lecture

Importance of Stepgrandparent Connections

 

While there are no established patterns for understanding the complex stepfamily dynamic, stepgrandparents offer an opportunity to make the family connections. This chapter shares two theories to help conceptualize stepgrandparents and their roles: social identity theory and social ecology theory.

Social identity theory takes a closer look at social roles and how grandparents can be resources in normalization for the children.  Specifically, the intragroup differences create a type of ‘us against them’ mentality in the family.  This dynamic can be emotionally draining.

Social ecology theory looks closely at the children’s immediate connections to understand them more fully.  Specifically, this theory shares that when evaluating a child’s connections, the grandparents can be a stabilizing resource.  They are often able to provide positive care-giving, be playmates, advisors, and friends.

As a counselor, your role is to help the stepfamily examine and discuss roles, identities both shared and singular, boundaries, conflicts, and a host of expectations as you move them towards a healthy family perception.

 

Week 8: Lecture

Dominant Social Myths about Stepfamilies and Grandparents

The social myths described in the sections illustrate some of the beliefs that stepgrandparents have about their roles.  Misconceptions can go both ways in terms of who believes what and how that belief will impact the forming stepfamily.  Your role as counselor is to tell them their story and help re-story the myths to produce a more positive outcome.

Five Social Myths about Grandparents

Myth #1: The role of a grandparent remains the same before and after a divorce

Myth #2: Grandparents do not experience loyalty conflicts with the new stepparent of their grandchildren

Myth #3: All the grandparents will become instant friends

Myth #4: Everyone’s traditions will be integrated

Myth #5: Grandparents love their child’s stepchildren as much as they love their own grandchildren

To begin the process of restorying or reauthoring the dominant social myths about stepfamilies and grandparents, one must pull from narrative theory the foundations of understanding our lives through the stories we tell others and ourselves.  Moreover, narrative therapy believes the descriptions, stories, or myths we attach to ourselves are central to the understandings of how we function.  Thusly, the interpretation for those stories has daily consequences regarding how we interact and experience our lives.

 

No man is an island… this simple statement speaks volumes with regard to the myths and implications of allowing the myths to stay unchallenged, unchanged.  The text advocates for the use of narrative therapy in helping rewrite the internal dialogue, and consequently rewrite the family dynamic.

 

Week 8: Lecture

Narratives: Grandparents Describe Their Relationships

The following narrative is shared in hopes of allowing the reader to walk a mile in the grandparent’s proverbial shoes; to see and feel what they felt.  As the counselor, your role is to become as much a part of the family as the members themselves in order to understand issues and challenges inherent in the blend.  Each family member will present with unique challenges.

For this and the narratives in this week’s chapter, you are asked to read and reflect on the personhood of the grandparent; attempt to feel what they feel.  You are not asked to sympathize, but to empathize with their plight.

 

“In my two main ‘step’ experiences, I came into the life of my stepchildren long after their parents had divorced and settled into their post-divorce single lives. I wasn’t around, or involved, in most of my stepchildren’s early family history, neither the happy times nor the traumas and dramas. The downside of carrying minimal family history baggage is that I can’t regale the grandkids with stories of ‘what your daddy did when he was a little boy’. But as a relative newcomer, I feel I can be a more neutral observer, an objective presence without the possible expectations, disappointments, or projections a biological grandparent might intentionally or unintentionally bestow. I can relax and focus on the young people, marvel at their developing personalities and character, and appreciate the present moments with them.”

– Carolyn Barnabo

Barnabo, C. (2013, April 24). Steps Removed: Reflections on Being a Step-Grandparent. Retrieved from https://mysydneyparislife.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/steps-removed-reflections-on-being-a-step-grandparent-2/

 

Week 8: Activities

Readings

Please read the following for this week as well as All Week 8 Online Course Materials:

Readings:

· Gold, J. M. (2015). Stepping In, Stepping Out: Creating Stepfamily Rhythm. Wiley.

· Chapter 9

· Adcox, S. (n.d.). What Keeps Grandparents and Grandchildren Close? Retrieved from  http://grandparents.about.com/od/grandparentingroles/a/Stepgrands.htm 

 

6 Factors of Grandparent-Grandchild Closeness

By

Susan Adcox 

Medically reviewed by

Carly Snyder, MD 

on July 17, 2020

Have you ever wondered how some grandparents manage to have close relationships with their grandchildren and others do not? It’s not a mystery. Research has uncovered the secrets, but they are still unknown to many grandparents.

Merril Silverstein and Vern L. Bengtson, among others, have studied the concept that they call “intergenerational solidarity” and have identified six factors that influence this “solidarity.” While some of these factors are beyond our control, others are not.

Fostering a Grandparent-Grandchild Relationship

This information is unlikely to help grandparents who have lost contact with their grandchildren, or those who have deep-seated family conflicts that may require therapy to resolve. But for the rest of us, this information could be vital.

Physical Proximity

Not surprisingly, geographic closeness is one of the strongest predictors of a close relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. This factor may be out of the control of some grandparents, although some have demonstrated a willingness to move to be close to their grandchildren.

Other factors, such as the health and financial status of the grandparents can be factors if they limit travel. Geographical distance isn’t terribly important for grandparents who are fit, healthy, and financially able to afford the cost of frequent trips to see grandchildren.

Although grandparents agree that there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, technology has made it easier to build a relationship with grandchildren across the miles. Many grandparents visit with their grandchildren daily via FaceTime, Skype, or other video chat platform.

Older grandchildren will appreciate loving text messages, as long as they are not too frequent. Facebook and other social networking sites are also good for staying in touch with tweens, teens, and young adult grandchildren. The bottom line is that loving grandparents will find a way to bridge the distance.

Frequency of Contact

Grandparents who stay in frequent contact with their grandchildren have closer relationships, but physical distance isn’t the only obstacle to contact. Parental divorce commonly has a drastic effect on contact between grandchildren and grandparents. Often contact increases between the custodial parent and his or her parents, and contact with grandchildren increases, too.

However, the parents of the non-custodial parent frequently find their contact with grandchildren greatly reduced. Since women still receive custody more frequently than men, most of the time maternal grandparents have an enhanced relationship with their grandchildren after divorce, while paternal grandparents have a reduced role.

Of course, more fathers are winning custody, and joint custody is on the rise. Perhaps in the future divorce will not affect the grandparent-grandchild relationship as radically as it often does today.

  Why Maternal Grandparents Tend to Be Closer to Grandkids Than Paternal

Grandparents’ Role Within the Family

When grandparents provide child care for grandchildren or become actual or surrogate parents to their grandchildren, they have a greater than average opportunity to bond. Many grandparents who fulfill these roles, however, wish that they could be “regular” grandparents rather than having to fill parental shoes.

Also, research shows that it is the regular presence of grandparents that results in closeness rather than the functions that they perform. Whether you are a grandparent who has taken charge of your grandchildren or a “cool” grandparent who mainly plays with them, you can be close to your grandchildren.

The Concept of Normalcy

Families that expect strong relationships between the generations are more likely to have them. That’s because family members are taught from an early age that family members share obligations. Those obligations may include caregiving for children and for the elderly, financial assistance and general sharing of tasks. And the assistance flows in both directions — from young to old, from old to young.

Families that have this type of culture are more likely to demonstrate strong grandparent-grandchild bonds than families in which individuality and independence top the list of values. Such families also adopt practices that keep extended families close.

Emotional Bonding

Although grandparents and grandchildren often report mutual closeness, grandparents may report a greater degree of closeness than the younger generation. That’s just natural.

When families work as they should, children are closest to their parents and siblings. Grandparents usually occupy their second circle or second tier of emotional proximity. As children grow, their circles enlarge, and their peers become vitally important to them. Grandparents may be further displaced.

Grandparents, on the other hand, often live in a world of shrinking circles, as their peers and older relatives die, move away or suffer from serious health issues. Their children and grandchildren may come to occupy a larger space in their lives.

What is important, however, is that grandparents who develop establish early emotional bonds with grandchildren will find that those bonds last. Such bonds usually survive the passage of years and the many changes that both generations go through.

Research also shows that the middle generation is of vital importance in determining closeness. When grandparents and their adult children are close, closeness with grandchildren comes naturally and easily.

Reaching a Consensus on Values

Grandchildren often get their early values from parents and grandparents. As they mature, however, they are more likely to grow their own set of values. Families are closest when they share values, but few families will ever be in total agreement.

Researchers say a generation gap sometimes develops when younger generations find older generations lacking in social tolerance and even prone to hypocrisy. Grandparents should not abandon their values and standards, but a willingness to listen to the younger generation can go a long way. And grandparents should be sure that they practice what they preach.

Summing Up Grandparent-Grandchild Relationships

Although these six factors have an influence on grandparent-grandchild closeness, the attitude of grandparents is the most important factor. Research shows that love for grandparents isn’t built into the grandparent-grandchild relationship.

In other words, grandchildren don’t automatically value their grandparents. Instead, they learn to value their individual grandparents and the way they occupy that role. Detached or uninvolved grandparents are unlikely to find a place of honor in the family circle. On the other hand, grandparents who thrive on creating family drama and stirring up conflict are unlikely to be valued family members either.

All in all, it is the grandparent who is determined to build a strong and lasting relationship with grandchildren who is most likely to succeed.

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

1. Bengtson VL, Oyama PS. Intergenerational solidarity and conflict. InIntergenerational solidarity. 2010;35-52. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. doi:10.1057/9780230115484_3

2. Dunifon, R., & Bajracharya, A. (2012). The Role of Grandparents in the Lives of Youth. Journal of family issues. 2012;33(9):1168–1194. doi:10.1177/0192513X12444271

3. Moffatt K, David J, Baecker RM. Connecting grandparents and grandchildren. InConnecting Families 2013;173-193. Springer, London. doi:10.1007/978-1-4471-4192-1_10

4. Attar-Schwartz S, Fuller-Thomson E. Adolescents’ closeness to paternal grandmothers in the face of parents’ divorce. Children and Youth Services Review. 2017 Jun 1;77:118-26. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.04.008

5. Doyle M, O’Dywer C, Timonen V. “How Can You Just Cut Off a Whole Side of the Family and Say Move On?” The Reshaping of Paternal Grandparent‐Grandchild Relationships Following Divorce or Separation in the Middle Generation. Family Relations. 2010 Dec;59(5):587-98. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2010.00625.x

6. Xu L, Silverstein M, Chi I. Emotional closeness between grandparents and grandchildren in rural China: The mediating role of the middle generation. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships. 2014 Jul 3;12(3):226-40. doi:10.1080/15350770.2014.929936

7. Hakoyama M, MaloneBeach EE. Predictors of grandparent–grandchild closeness: An ecological perspective. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships. 2013 Jan 1;11(1):32-49. doi:10.1080/15350770.2013.753834

8. Blundon A. The Role of Grandparents. Rural Transformation and Newfoundland and Labrador Diaspora. Transgressions (Cultural Studies and Education). 2013 (pp. 243-250). SensePublishers, Rotterdam. doi:10.1007/978-94-6209-302-7_21

9. Monserud MA. Continuity and Change in Grandchildren’s Closeness to Grandparents: Consequences of Changing Intergenerational Ties. Marriage Fam Rev. 2010;46(5):366–388. doi:10.1080/01494929.2010.528320

10. Hlebovy S, Gitimu Waithaka A, Gitimu P. Grandparent-Adult Grandchild Relationships: Perspective of Attachment among College Students. International Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research. 2016 Jan-Mar;1(4):26-34.

11. Janmaat, J. G., & Keating, A. Are today’s youth more tolerant? Trends in tolerance among young people in Britain. Ethnicities. 2019 Feb;19(1):44–65. doi:10.1177/1468796817723682

12. Mansson DH, Myers SA, Turner LH. Relational maintenance behaviors in the grandchild–grandparent relationship. Communication Research Reports. 2010 Feb 9;27(1):68-79. doi:10.1080/08824090903526521

13. Timonen V, Arber S. Introduction: A new look at grandparenting. Contemporary Grandparenting: Changing Family Relationships in Global Contexts. Policy Press, Bristol, UK. 2012:1-27.

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

1. Bengtson VL, Oyama PS. Intergenerational solidarity and conflict. InIntergenerational solidarity. 2010;35-52. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. doi:10.1057/9780230115484_3

2. Dunifon, R., & Bajracharya, A. (2012). The Role of Grandparents in the Lives of Youth. Journal of family issues. 2012;33(9):1168–1194. doi:10.1177/0192513X12444271

3. Moffatt K, David J, Baecker RM. Connecting grandparents and grandchildren. InConnecting Families 2013;173-193. Springer, London. doi:10.1007/978-1-4471-4192-1_10

4. Attar-Schwartz S, Fuller-Thomson E. Adolescents’ closeness to paternal grandmothers in the face of parents’ divorce. Children and Youth Services Review. 2017 Jun 1;77:118-26. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.04.008

5. Doyle M, O’Dywer C, Timonen V. “How Can You Just Cut Off a Whole Side of the Family and Say Move On?” The Reshaping of Paternal Grandparent‐Grandchild Relationships Following Divorce or Separation in the Middle Generation. Family Relations. 2010 Dec;59(5):587-98. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2010.00625.x

6. Xu L, Silverstein M, Chi I. Emotional closeness between grandparents and grandchildren in rural China: The mediating role of the middle generation. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships. 2014 Jul 3;12(3):226-40. doi:10.1080/15350770.2014.929936

7. Hakoyama M, MaloneBeach EE. Predictors of grandparent–grandchild closeness: An ecological perspective. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships. 2013 Jan 1;11(1):32-49. doi:10.1080/15350770.2013.753834

8. Blundon A. The Role of Grandparents. Rural Transformation and Newfoundland and Labrador Diaspora. Transgressions (Cultural Studies and Education). 2013 (pp. 243-250). SensePublishers, Rotterdam. doi:10.1007/978-94-6209-302-7_21

9. Monserud MA. Continuity and Change in Grandchildren’s Closeness to Grandparents: Consequences of Changing Intergenerational Ties. Marriage Fam Rev. 2010;46(5):366–388. doi:10.1080/01494929.2010.528320

10. Hlebovy S, Gitimu Waithaka A, Gitimu P. Grandparent-Adult Grandchild Relationships: Perspective of Attachment among College Students. International Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research. 2016 Jan-Mar;1(4):26-34.

11. Janmaat, J. G., & Keating, A. Are today’s youth more tolerant? Trends in tolerance among young people in Britain. Ethnicities. 2019 Feb;19(1):44–65. doi:10.1177/1468796817723682

12. Mansson DH, Myers SA, Turner LH. Relational maintenance behaviors in the grandchild–grandparent relationship. Communication Research Reports. 2010 Feb 9;27(1):68-79. doi:10.1080/08824090903526521

13. Timonen V, Arber S. Introduction: A new look at grandparenting. Contemporary Grandparenting: Changing Family Relationships in Global Contexts. Policy Press, Bristol, UK. 2012:1-27.